SEVEN RAGGED MEN | 2022
The story of Madness... in their own words
madness, ska, camden, music, suggs, barso, kix, woody, chrissy boy, thommo, chas smash, john hasler, dublin castle, london, the nutty boys, pop, 2-tone, two-tone, seven, ragged, men, baggy, trousers, house, of, fun, our, house, my, girl, one, step, beyond, story, words, interviews, embarrassment, Madstock, doc martens,
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2022

Given the Opportunity

As the Covid threat subsides, Madness make up for lost time and grab the chance of new activity with both hands

JANUARY 3: Suggs appears on Radio 2

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The Madness singer is a guest on the Breakfast Show, where he chats to stand-in host Nicki Chapman about his upcoming one-man stage show, A Life in the Realm of Madness. He apologises for being late for the interview as he’s on holiday in Italy “and time and dates become irrelevant”.

JANUARY 11: Chris appears on Baker’s Chatcast

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The Madness guitarist is a special guest for the opening episode of this fourth series of podcasts. Over 45 minutes he discusses learning the guitar, fezzes, the band’s early days and the stories behind their videos. He also attempts to educate his bemused 16-year-old interviewer about On The Buses, Tommy Cooper and boomarangs, and reveals he caught Covid over the festive season. Watch the podcast here.

CHRIS (speaking in 2022): During the last Christmas tour I came home after the Nottingham gig and my wife came back from London the same day. Then I went back out on tour and it turned out she had Covid! So we did the O2 gig on December 21st and I stayed in London afterwards, then did Wembley the next night and came home and looked after her. Now, I’m quite old and also not vaccinated, so of course I caught it right before Christmas. I was very achy and felt iffy but it was just like a bad flu – I was lucky.

Chris discusses headgear on the podcast

JANUARY 14: Suggs appears on Would I Lie To You?

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The frontman makes his debut as a panelist on the popular BBC1 show, appearing on the same team as David Mitchell and Holly Willoughby. He enthusiastically tells the well-worn anecdote about him finding out he was sacked from the band in 1978 by reading an advert in Melody Maker, which the opposition team of Lee Mack, Bob Mortimer and Angellica Bell easily guess is the truth.

Suggs and his fellow WILTY? panellists

JANUARY 18: American tour cancelled

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Disappointment for fans in the USA as the ongoing Covid suituation forces the band to cancel their six dates in Oakland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and New York City, which were due to take place in May and June. The gigs – which had already been rescheduled from 2020 – are pushed back to 2023.

JANUARY 20: Suggs’s one-man tour begins

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Kicking off at The Courtyard in Hereford, Suggs finally begins his one-man stage show, which has been delayed multiple times due to COVID-19. Along with faithful pianist Deano, the tour visits 24 venues up and down the UK, including The Stables in Milton Keynes on February 5, where Paul Weller pops backstage to say hello. The tour ends in Worthing on February 25.

SUGGS (speaking in 2022): I’ve always liked talking rubbish and exaggerating, as my wife will attest. In fact, when I told her about this new show she said, ‘You on stage talking about yourself again? What a change that will make.’ If the first show was about how on earth I got to where I am, then this one is about what happened when I got there. So it’s a gentle jaunt through the ups and downs of my life and career and the hilarity therein, along with a few acoustic versions of our hits. The stories I relate include suffering vertigo on the roof of Buckingham Palace, nearly blowing the closing ceremony of the Olympics, and the embarrassing stuff that happened at Glastonbury. It’s surreal really, to look back at 12-year-old me compared to everything that’s happened since.

Suggs, Deano and Paul Weller

JANUARY 27: Bedders Q&A, Brighton

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The Madness bassist takes part in a special evening at the Latest Music Bar in Brighton for the Southern Performance And Creative Energies (SPACE) event. Hosted by Wayne Imms, the evening sees Bedders talk about his life and career, with writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen also on the bill.

BEDDERS (speaking in 2022): I don’t know if Madness will ever split up, purely because it’s so flexible. I mean, I’ve had a break, and Chris and Mike didn’t do it for a while, but Suggs is the big thing – we could never do a gig without him, that’s for sure. So we’ll see. For my own part, when I left I’d just had enough of playing music generally and just said, ‘That’s it – I’ve had enough.’ I remember thinking that I wouldn’t come back until I got my arm twisted by Suggs, and of course I did come back and I’m very pleased I did.

FEBRUARY 25: The Madness reissued

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As part of the ongoing reissue of their back catalogue, the result of the 1988 post-Madness project is rereleased on 180g vinyl. The 10-track special edition also includes new liner notes from Chris, Lee and Carl.

MARCH: Recording sessions continue

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Madness return to the studio to work on new tracks, with one eye on a new album. On March 5, Suggs winds down after one session by joining Mez and the Fezzes at their gig at the Rose & Crown pub in Walthamstow for an impromptu rendition of See You Later Alligator. As well as being in the studio with Madness, Chris joins The Spammed to record Our Way for this year’s Rat Pack-themed Specialized CD box set. The group is made up of Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey, sax supremo Terry Edwards, actor Kevin Eldon, The Damned’s Rat Scabies, actor/composer Micko Westmoreland and Nikolaj Torp Larsen and Horace Panter from The Specials.

SUGGS (speaking in 2022): With any luck, a new album will be out at the end of the year. We’ve written quite a lot of new songs, so the idea now is to get together and record them.

MARCH 20: Suggs appears on The Robert Elms Show, BBC Radio London

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Suggs appears to plug the upcoming Royal Albert Hall gig, and also talks about recording the new album, his solo tour and Squeeze joining the line-up for the Jubilation festival later in the year.

MARCH 24: Teenage Cancer Trust, Royal Albert Hall, London

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For their first gig of 2022, Madness play a slightly shortened Greatest Hits sets at this special fund-raiser, which returns after three years for its 20th event. With Paul Weller as the support act, Madness perform on the fourth night of the week-long extravaganza, which also features comedians and The Who, Liam Gallagher and Ed Sheeran playing separate gigs. Setlist: One Step Beyond / Embarrassment / The Prince / NW5 / My Girl / The Sun and the Rain / Wings of a Dove / One Better Day / Shut Up / Bed and Breakfast Man / Mr Apples / House of Fun / Baggy Trousers / Our House / It Must Be Love / Encore: Madness / Night Boat to Cairo

SUGGS (speaking in 2022): This show is a great one to do because we’ve had cancer in my family unfortunately , as a lot of families have. So it’s a cause close to our heart. That was a gap, wasn’t there, between really young palliative care and older people, and teenagers were missing out a bit, so it’s just a very nice thing to do.

Lee, Suggs and Bedders at The Albert Hall

MARCH 25: Keep Moving reissued

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The next original album to get the 180g vinyl treatment is the band’s fifth LP from 1984. Like the others in the series, this special edition includes quotes from the band on the inner sleeve, with only Woody not contributing.

MARCH 30: Take It Or Leave It Q&A, Olympic Studios cinema, Barnes, West London

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Suggs and former Stiff boss Dave Robinson are the special guests at this screening of the 1981 Madness movie, answering audience questions afterwards.

APRIL 4: Bedders appears on Pork Pie & Mash Up

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The Madness bassist makes another guest appearance on the monthly podcast hosted by Rhoda Dakar, during which he discusses the latest goings-on with his life and the band. Listen to the podcast here.

BEDDERS (speaking in 2022): We’re currently struggling with our tricky 15th album, which I hope we’ll get round to finishing at some point this year. We’re just so slow these days, but we are trying. We’ve got our shed in Cricklewood where we’re recording and rehearsing away and keeping it real.

 

CHRIS(speaking in 2022): There is always a new album in the pipeline… but the pipeline is a bit blocked currently.

APRIL 16: Palaver, Dublin Castle

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Lee appears in Camden for a signing session followed by a performance with new band Palaver and a DJ set.

APRIL 29: Wonderful reissued

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Another rerelease sees the band’s 1999 comeback album issued on 180g vinyl. The 10-track special edition also includes new sleeve notes from Chris, Carl, Woody, Bedders and Lee.

MAY 4: Ooh Do U Fink U R released

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A new duet by Suggs and Paul Weller is released as a download, which looks back to their school days in Camden and Woking. Recorded at Weller’s Black Barn studios, the lyrics take a tongue-in-cheek look at youthful hi-jinks. As well as the download,  a limited edition 7-inch vinyl version of the single is released on June 14. Watch the video here.

PAUL WELLER (speaking in 2022): Me and Suggs have been talking about doing something together for the last few years, so to see it finally happen is amazing. I love the tune and working with him; he’s truly a man of many talents.

 

SUGGS (speaking in 2022): ‘Ooh Do U Fink U R’ was a phrase I heard more often than I wished and sums up my school years; constantly being told to know my place and keep in my box, being given no encouragement but still never giving in, and never giving up. You know all those great teachers you read about who dragged their pupils up, and encouraged them and made them into the best possible version of themselves they could be? Well, unfortunately I didn’t have one of those. Chatting to Paul reminded me of those experiences, and we realised we both found enthusiasm and a purpose in music that pulled us through.

Suggs and Paul Weller during recording

JUNE 1: Cardiff Castle, Wales

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After the disappointment of the cancelled American tour, Madness begin their 2022 schedule in the Welsh capital with suitably regal surroundings to mark the start of the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

Review

Madness aren’t strangers to putting on a regal show having famously performed a gig on the rooftop of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee back in June 2012 when they used some clever lighting tricks to transform Her Majesty’s residence into a terraced street. A decade on, and Suggs and co were at another historic building – Cardiff Castle – on Wednesday, June 1 when their Welsh tour date just happened to coincide with the start of the venue’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which includes a big gig featuring Bonnie Tyler on Saturday, June 4. Read more about that here. And what a start it was. Against the magnificent backdrop of the lit-up castle, the band were clearly in great spirits and happy to be back and touring after the pandemic and their fans lapped it up as they brought us hit after hit. One Step Beyond is usually an opening show favourite and it didn’t disappoint this time round, whipping the already excited crowd into a frenzy. As the trademark fez and pork pie headwear bobbed up and down to the music, you could also see Union Jack bowler hats and flags being waved in time to the music as Jubilee fever got under way. As well as all the classics you expect a Madness gig to feature – Wings of a Dove, House of Fun, My Girl and NW5 – Suggs also introduced a selection of new songs written during lockdown. And there was plenty of banter, including references to the Eisteddfod – “I was gonna do a sentence in Welsh then but I f***ing forgot it!” – and the high-profile Johnny Depp and Amber Heard libel case. A video showing clips to accompany the tracks at one point included references to Number 10’s Partygate scandal. After around an hour of music, the show was brought to an end with the glorious It Must Be Love before the encore, which we correctly guessed would feature the tracks Madness and Night Boat to Cairo. They may have been going for 40 years but Madness are still as fresh, fun and relevant as ever and judging by the fans’ reaction it was the perfect way to kickstart the Jubilee weekend of partying at Cardiff Castle.
Karen Price, Wales Online

SUGGS (speaking in 2022): I do think I appreciate it more now. In the 80s it was just a blur of arms and legs and hats flying in the air and hoping that your suit would be dry by the following night. Now there’s a chance to look at the audience and appreciate how much they’re enjoying what we’re doing, which is a very nice feeling. The knees are starting to play up a bit, but the adrenaline of the crowd always gives you a charge of electricity so it comes easy once you’re actually up there.

JUNE 2: Jubilation Festival, Brockwell Park, London

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Madness host an all-day festival to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Taking place on the Friday of this special extended Bank Holiday weekend, the festival includes three stages, a kids’ mini stage and a brewer’s market. Other acts include Squeeze, Supergrass, Tippa Irie, Norman Jay, Dennis Bovell and the Dub Pistols, with DJ sets by Rhoda Dakar and Mike Skinner, AKA The Streets.

setlist

One Step Beyond / Embarrassment / The Prince / NW5 / My Girl / The Sun And The Rain / Baby Burglar / Wings Of A Dove / Yesterday’s Men / Lovestruck / If I Go Mad / Shut Up / Bed & Breakfast Man / Mr Apples / House Of Fun / Baggy Trousers / Our House / It Must Be Love / ENCORE: Madness / Night Boat To Cairo

review

What better way to mark the start of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations than a music festival in the sunshine, headlined by the one and only Madness? Even more apt given the quintessentially British band played atop Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee a decade ago. Hosted in South London’s Brockwell Park and billed as family-friendly, the celebratory event also featured the likes of the Mystery Jets, Squeeze, Supergrass and a host of other acts and DJs. For the most part, the Jubilation delivered. In fact, for a London-based day festival, it was incredibly refreshing for it not to be dominated by a hipster 20-something crowd completely off their faces, and instead a wonderfully eclectic mix of ages and ethnicities – a true slice of the spectrum of people that make up “real London”, with entire extended families (from the grandmas to the tiddly grandkids on parents’ shoulders) in glitter, Union Jack-emblazoned partywear, dancing in the park together. It felt incredibly wholesome. There was also entertainment laid on for the younger crowd, including a soft play area with a brilliantly DIY feel, put together with hessian sacks, cardboard tubing, fruit crates and tennis balls, village fete games – from a sack race to tug-of-war. A “mini-mad” kids’ dance tent, which was blaring drum’n’bass for much of the afternoon, counterintuitively provided the perfect vibe for the kids to burn off their ice cream sugar high, powered by Big Fish Little Fish family rave specialists and jungle legend Jumping Jack Frost. The mini ravers were loving every minute of it – only marginally more than their parents, it seemed. Remarkably well put-together, nicely spread-out and helped along by the unshakeably good weather, there were plenty of spots to chill in the sun or shade, munching on decent food from a plethora of cuisines, sipping on craft beers or cocktails alongside the usual fare, or enjoying a Mr Whippy with flake from a fittingly British ice cream van (no longer 99p, mind…). If wandering the sprawling grounds, music tents and other fun distractions wasn’t too distracting, there was plenty to soak up on the main stage. New Wave English rockers Squeeze warmed up the crowd with a few of their renowned tracks, such as Cool for Cats, as did Supergrass, who had the audience chanting in unison “There’s a low, low feeling around me / And a stone-cold feeling inside…” and “Can you hear us pumping on your stereo?”, their brand of rock having stood the test of time surprisingly well. There were also interludes from more Brit bands, including the uplifting sounds of the London African Gospel Choir and a DJ set from reggae music innovator Norman Jay MBE. But, of course, most were sticking it out to see the real draw of the night – and they did not disappoint. Testament to Madness’s ever-loyal fan base were the hordes who came in fez caps, trilbies, braces and Doc Martens, evoking the era in which the North London ska band made their name in (fun fact: in 1992, the band caused two earthquakes during two separate gigs due to the numbers of people the jumping up and down in unison). They played a decent smattering of oldies and new material such as Baby Burglar, but the clear highlights were Lovestruck, Our House, the inimitable Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love. Are there any more simple but heartwarming words than: “Nothing more, nothing less / Love is the best”? Effortlessly charming and at ease on stage, frontman Suggs, in his trademark shades, chatted away like he was propping up the bar down the local, and, apart from an off-colour remark about Amber Heard, got the crowd feeling all warm and fuzzy about coming together to skank around to the sax and their best-loved tracks and forget the crumbling world around them for an evening.

Sarah Bradbury, theupcoming.com
(four out of five stars)

Lee on stage at Brockwell Park

JUNE 4: BigStage@1886, Isle of Man

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With the Jubilee concert in the bag, Madness kick off their summer shows, which will include a mix of domestic and European dates at various festivals.

JUNE 11: Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury

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Madness continue their summer gigs in the Midlands, playing the usual Greatest Hits setlist.

JUNE 12: Big Top, The Highland Centre, Edinburgh

JUNE 17: Isle of Wight Festival

JUNE 18: Baggy Trousers reissued

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For this year’s Record Day celebration, a special 12-inch version of Madness’s 1980 hit single is released on 180g vinyl. On the A-side is Baggy Trousers, Le Grand Pantalon and Disappear, while the B-side features The Business, That’s The Way To Do It and On The Beat Pete.

JUNE 18: Thetford Forest, Brandon

JUNE 22: Festival Jardins Pedralbes, Barcelona

JUNE 23: Noches Del Botanico, Madrid

JUNE 24: Mad Not Mad reissued

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The band’s sixth studio album gets the 180g vinyl treatment, 37 years after its original release in 1985. Like the others in the series, this special edition includes quotes from the band on the inner sleeve.

JUNE 24 : Plaza de Toros, Murcia

JUNE 26 : Retro C Trop, Château de Tilloloy, Rue de Flandre, France

BEDDERS (speaking in 2022): We always like going to France because they ‘get us’ there; Lee is a kind of comic hero there, much like the Albanians love Norman Wisdom. They think what he does is high art.

JULY 7: Beauregard Herouville Saint Clair, France

JULY 8: Sjock Festival, Lille, Belgium

JULY 15: The Quarry Park, Shrewsbury

JULY 16: Haydock Park Racecourse, Newton-Le-Willows

Review

Saturday night saw Haydock Racecourse filled with the rockinest, rock-steady beat of Madness, who proved that after more than 40 years they’re still as good as ever. The sun shone down as crowds flocked for a night at the races, followed by a heart-pumping 90 minutes of musical genius. The Camden band, who originally formed in 1976, hit the ground running with One Step Beyond. A sea of Scousers immediately burst into movement, with some of the more ambitious in the crowd giving it full pelt, with the iconic two-tone stomping and arm movements. And the band wasted no time, going straight into tracks such as Embarrassment and NW25, followed thick and fast by classics including The Prince. A carnival atmosphere took over Haydock Racecourse, helped along by a sea of Fez hats. Setting the tone for the night, Suggs, the band’s charismatic frontman, wasted no time, tearing the UK’s current government to shreds. Mocking the soon-to-be-ex Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he said: “Boris thought he got away with it and he finally got brought down… Mr Pincher. All that Boris got away with and he finally got brought down by Chris Pincher.” The politically motivated speech clearly went down well with fans, but more than that, Madness’ infectious energy managed to sweep across the entire racecourse, somehow scooping up even the least enthusiastic reveller in its wake. And despite being someone who was born quite a few years after Madness first emerged from the country’s capital, the band’s songs have been present throughout my life. This was one of my first gigs post-covid and I’m very glad I chose to spend my evening soaking up the timeless songs and epic stage presence of Madness, who are aging like a fine wine.
Kate Lally, Liverpool Echo, 5 stars

JULY 21: Standon Callling, Hertfordshire

Review

The four-day Standon Calling music festival got under way on Thursday and although there was Madness, the recent heatwave meant it was mud-less, with no repeat of last year’s final-day washout. For the first time in the event’s 21-year history – which began as a birthday barbecue for founder Alex Trenchard in the grounds of his family’s country house, Standon Lordship – there was a main-stage headliner on the Thursday night. That inaugural honour fell to north London nutty boys Madness, one of the most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early ’80s two-tone ska revival, who are still going strong after 46 years and who perform with six of the seven members of their original line-up. They turned the Lordship estate into a country house of fun by performing a 90-minute set peppered with most of their 15 UK top ten singles, including Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and House of Fun. They were supported on the main stage by Gabrielle, the Dreams and Rise chart-topper who turned 53 on Tuesday, Welwyn Garden City-based rock trio The Subways – featuring Stortford’s Billy Lunn – playing their home festival, reggae punk band The Skints, rapper Nadia Rose and The Cuban Brothers. Meanwhile, the Laundry Meadows second stage played host to Lucy Blue, Uncle Funk’s Disco Inferno – fronted by Stortford boat-dweller Simon Baker – and headliner The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, with the former TV Red Dwarf star doing a DJ set.
Paul Winspear, Bishop’s Stortford Independent

JULY 22: York Racecourse

JULY 24: Sheffield Tramlines Festival, South Yorkshire

Review

Madness topped the bill and performed a superb set with their usual energy, high tempo and craziness. The crowd were hooked in from the start when they heard the opening of One Step Beyond, “Hey you, don’t watch that…” each word echoing around the park Suggs appeared stage left in his trademark sunglasses and suit coming onto the stage to a rapturous response. The set included a mixture of the older classics and some newer hits. Late 70s hits Embarrassment, The Prince, Bed and Breakfast Man and My Girl featured in the first half of the set and more recent hits, NW5, Mr Apples, Lovestruck were greeted warmly too. A few inflatable beach balls made their way onto the stage from the crowd and saxophonist Lee Thompson took great delight in kicking them back into the crowd. Yours truly even passed him a ball that had become dislodged between the stage and speakers. Suggs then introduced If I Go Mad, a song he had penned during the pandemic, quipping, ‘I wrote this during lockdown about if I go mad, but realised I was already mad.’ The crowd went wild when four classics were played back-to-back; House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House and It Must Be Love all ensured the bumper crowd were singing and swaying with their arms aloft in unison. The larger-than-life Londoners then paid tribute to Sheffield with a nod to The Human League by playing a little snippet of Don’t You Want Me Baby? The crowd appreciating the gesture. Before coming back on stage to a two-song encore with Madness and Night Goat to Cairo, Suggs showed his appreciation for the crowd, “Thank you very much, we are feeling the love, Sheffield.”
Scott Antcliffe, Yorkshire Post

AUGUST 6: Dublin 3 Arena, Ireland

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Madness finally play this rescheduled gig, which was due to start The Ladykillers tour in December 2021 but had to be cancelled due to Covid concerns.

Review

Madness brought their Ladykillers Tour to Dublin with very fragrant guests (as the tour posters says) Squeeze in support at the 3 Arena. Like many shows it was a rescheduled show and was eagerly awaited by many. The Arena was pretty packed even before Squeeze took to the stage and the heat was a little uncomfortable but that didn’t stop the fun as the band went through hit after hit. Up The Junction made an early appearance in the set, being the second song, I thought this may have came later but maybe the band chose to play it early and get the crowd going as it did. Glenn not having much to say the band played through their 13 song set, finishing up just short of an hour. By 9pm the arena was even more packed then earlier and hotter. Black and white was the dress code for the night and many chose to wear a fez. The band walked out on stage with Suggs imitating a cat/tiger and opened right off the bat with One Step Beyond and so the skanking began. Three songs in and Suggs was telling us that there has been a mistake with tickets and many are here to see Westlife, but sorry WE’RE MADNESS and better. It’s a run through the history of Madness and the band gave the crowd a chance to have a shimmy (as Suggs suggested) when they played Return of the Lost Palmas 7 where Suggs left the stage and let the band do their thing only coming back on just before they finished. It was more trip down memory lane for all the ska fans and then came a count down 5,4,3,2,1 and it was House of Fun. Wow! Did the place come to life (not that it wasn’t already) but not a person was on a seat in the balcony and not an arse touch a seat after this, it was ska party time. It was great also to see a good mix of ages in the crowd and a good number of a new generation, something Suggs even remarked about just before Baggy Trousers and tried speaking to one young guy at the front row. It Must Be Love was dedicated to all the band’s kids and family and the crowd and that was the end of the main set. Two more songs came for the encore and for this I had moved down to the the standing area and this gave me a better view of the dancing that was happening, not a foot wasn’t moving. It brought back great memories to watch so many people dancing to one of the best ska bands there’s ever been. .
Ian McDonnell, Backseat Mafia

AUGUST 7: Custom House Square, Belfast

Review

Madness haven’t been strangers to Belfast in recent years. The six-piece, following the departure of backing vocalist Chas Smash in 2014, have taken to the stage here five times in the last decade, always pulling in a huge crowd that’s eager for their fix of the nutty sound. On Sunday evening, Custom House Square was once again a sea of fezzes as all ages, shapes and sizes gathered to watch Suggs and the gang do their thing. Our very own godfather of punk Terri Hooley was on DJ duty, throwing out tunes from the likes of The Beastie Boys, The Specials and, of course, The Undertones, much to the delight of the audience who sang along with every word. Suited and booted, Madness strutted out, immediately launching into One Step Beyond and Embarrassment. The crowd erupted as the band hit the ground running – and there really was no looking back. They belted through many of the 15 top 10 UK singles that they’ve amassed over their 40+ years in the business, with Suggs jokingly mentioning how he bumped into Johnny Depp in a Newcastle bar before playing My Girl (a song about a lad who’s having relationship problems). Always mindful of being labelled as an 80s nostalgia act, the band from Camden Town in north London has been working on fresh material – new tunes Baby Burglar and If I Go Mad received a polite applause from the Belfast faithful. But the vast majority were here for the classics, and after guitarist Chrissy Boy treated everyone to his take of The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, it was ‘showtime’ – the final part of the Madness set that takes us through their best-known songs. House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House and It Must Be Love sent 5,000 people into raptures. Beer flew through the air and teenagers and pensioners skanked the night away, lapping up the rockinest, rocksteady beat that Irish and UK fans have adored for decades. Ending their heart-pumping 90-minute set with Prince Buster’s Madness (from where they took their name) and Night Boat to Cairo, it’s easy to see why Suggs and co have enjoyed such longevity. Their songs are timeless and sound as good as they did in the late 70s and 80s. Mums and dads can relive their youth on nights like this, and at the same time, introduce the next generation to a group that will go down as one of the all-time greats. There was nothing but love in the air, and in a time when Northern Ireland is, typically, blighted by disagreements and problems, a little bit of Madness is just what we need to stay sane.
Patrick Murphy, Belfast Telegraph

AUGUST 18: Fete Et Festival, Switzerland

AUGUST 20: Cabaret Vert Music Festival, Charleville, France

AUGUST 26: Windsor Racecourse

AUGUST 27: Tunes in the Park, Port Eliot Estate, Cornwall

SEPTEMBER 2: Lindisfarne Festival, Northumberland

SEPTEMBER 3: Wolverhampton Racecourse

SEPTEMBER 7: Near Jazz Experience, Pizza Express, Holborn, London

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Bedders takes a break from the Madness tour to play a one-off date with his side project, featuring long-time collaborator Terry Edwards.

SEPTEMBER 9: E-Werk, Cologne, Germany

SEPTEMBER 10: E-Werk, Cologne

SEPTEMBER 14: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg

SEPTEMBER 16: The Dangermen Sessions reissued

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The band’s eighth studio album is next in line for the 180g vinyl treatment. Like the others in the series, this special edition includes liner notes from Chris, Mike and Bedders. Originally released in August 2005, the album consists of cover versions of reggae and ska tracks such as Prince Buster’s Girl Why Don’t You and Desmond Dekker & the Aces’ Israelites, alongside ska covers of tracks including The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hanging On and Lola by The Kinks. The original album reached No11 in the UK charts, which at the time was the band’s highest chart position in the UK since Keep Moving in 1984.

SEPTEMBER 16: Tempodrom, Berlin

SEPTEMBER 17: Tempodrom, Berlin

SEPTEMBER 19: Britain's Greatest Obsession

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Suggs appears in the second episode of this show on Sky History, which sees celebrities explore uniquely British preoccupations and passions in an attempt to find out what makes the nation tick. Unsurprisingly, the frontman waxes lyrical about the humble hostelry, exploring women’s role in brewing, the community role of the pub, literary and musical creativity and notorious ghost stories. Along the way he meets fellow pub obsessives, including journalist Marverine Cole and musician Frank Turner, before discussing his findings with fellow series presenters Harry Hill, Reginald D Hunter, Lorraine Kelly, Chris Packham and Liza Tarbuck.

Suggs with his fellow series presenters

SEPTEMBER 24: The Silencerz, The Holroyd Arms, Guildford

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With Madness activity over for the year, Lee joins son Daley for an appearance with their seven-piece collective. The performance is part of the Ska ‘n’ B all-dayer event that runs from 2pm till late with other acts including The Kubricks and The Trojan Beats.

SEPTEMBER 27: What a King Cnut, The Capitol Theatre, Horsham

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Suggs kicks another round of his one-man stage show, accompanied by faithful pianist Deano. They go on to play a further 15 nights up and down the UK, culminating in Chester on October 23.

OCTOBER 27: One Step Beyond with Suggs and Friends, Alexandra Palace Theatre, London

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Suggs is joined by Paul Weller and Chrissie Hynde for this inaugural fundraiser in aid of Horizons, which helps youngsters by providing educational resources, extra-curricular activities and experiences across academia, technology, sports and the arts.

Review

Paul Weller, Chrissie Hynde and Madness frontman Suggs rocked Alexandra Palace at the launch of a charity boosting chances for young people in North London. The star-studded special, One Step Beyond with Suggs and Friends, was in aid of Horizons Charity which offers access to extracurricular arts, sport, tech and mentoring for children in more than 105 schools. Founded this year by Haringey Education Partnership, it aims to give a more equal start to 35,000 young people across Haringey and Enfield. Before last Thursday’s event, pupils from Highgate Wood School and The Willow in Tottenham met Horizons ambassadors Suggs and author Charlie Higson for a screening of the film they created for the launch. The youngsters, who are benefitting from Horizons’ work, were also given a tour of the Victorian Theatre to learn about its history as it turns 150 this year. Suggs who attended Quintin Kynaston school – now Harris Academy in St John’s Wood – and formed Madness with pupils from Hampstead School, hosted the night and performed hits including One Step Beyond, Our House and It Must Be Love. He said: “The launch event was a great success. It was great to share the stage with some incredible artists from the local area and beyond and to showcase the work of the charity. In the current climate, it is so important to give all young people opportunities to achieve their dreams and find success through extracurricular activities, music, sport and so much more. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who made the event possible.” He was joined by ‘modfather’ Paul Weller for their single Ooh Do U Fink U R, followed by the former Jam and Style Council singer performing his hits You Do Something To Me, Gravity and Shout To The Top. Then it was the turn of Pretenders singer-songwriter Hynde to perform her hits 2,000 Miles, Don’t Get Me Wrong and Middle Of The Road before Tottenham-based artist Miraa May delivered a lively set, and former City and Islington College pupil Tiana Major9 treated the audience to her track Safe Space and a cover of Amy Winehouse’s Love Is A Losing Game. Soul singer Leah Weller sang Wonder and a cover of Childish Gambino’s Redbone. Horizons focuses on the most diverse and disadvantaged areas where Covid has exacerbated existing inequalities and created a need to support children to thrive beyond the school gates. Partner organisations include The BRIT School, Football Beyond Borders, Haringey Music Service, and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. A charity spokesperson said: “With school budgets under enormous pressure, we can make a powerful difference to the lives of children and young people who would not otherwise access these critical development opportunities.”
Bridget Galton, This Is Local London

Suggs and Paul Weller on stage at the charity gig

NOVEMBER: The band reconvene in the studio

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Chris takes to social media to post a couple of brief videos of the band in the studio. The first 30-second clip shows Woody drumming away, with Chris commenting: ‘Yes! Just need to stick a 12 string on it’. The guitarist follows it up with a 27-second clip of him strumming away, with the comment: ‘Getting the band back together. They haven’t turned up yet. #newMadnessalbum’

NOVEMBER 16: Album track listing clues revealed

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Chris takes to social media again, this time treating his Instagram followers to a picture of 24 song titles scribbled on a whiteboard. The list is split into two columns, with established newbies If I Go Mad, Baby Burglar and Theatre of the Absurd on one side, and 21 more on the other. Some of these titles are familiar, such as In My Street and All the President’s Men, but the others spark fans into a debate of what may appear on the much-anticipated next album. Chris himself just says: ‘The opposite of a shortlist. A longlist. #newmadnessalbum’

The 'longlist' revealed by Chris

NOVEMBER 18: The Get Up! released on DVD and CD

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The May 2021 lockdown show is released in its entirety on limited edition CD and DVD. Scripted by Charlie Higson and featuring special guests Paul Weller and Roland Gift, the extravaganza shows Madness watching the story of how they got together from the stalls of the London Palladium. Hosted and narrated by a ghostly Higson, the film captures early rehearsals, classic Madness banter and a greatest hits set, including three previously unreleased tracks – Baby Burglar, If I Go Mad and Theatre Of The Absurd.

NOVEMBER 19: Suggs DJ set, De Le Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea

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The singer appears behind the decks at this special evening of ska, reggae, soul and rhythm ‘n’ blues, supported by Wendy May’s Locomotion. Afterwards, fans complain on social media that the show was poor due to Suggs being under the influence, with others saying that he’d been in the pub all day beforehand.

DECEMBER 2: Peter Blake 90th Birthday Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London

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Madness are among the acts performing at this special charity event for the legendary artist, who designed the cover of the band’s 2012 album, Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da. Also on the bill are Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, The Who, Chrissie Hynde and Baxter Dury. Proceeds from the event are split between the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Graeae Theatre Company. Madness top the bill, playing a 50-minute 12-song set that begins with Suggs shouting: “Hey you Peter!” to kick off One Step Beyond. Mike’s mum Pat gets a shoutout, while Chris’s daughter Elfie is interviewed on stage during the usual banter about O Levels that precedes Baggy Trousers. During It Must Be Love, a giant picture of Peter also fills the backdrop as the crowd sing along to every word. Setlist: One Step Beyond / Embarrassment / The Prince / NW5 / My Girl / The Sun and the Rain / House of Fun / Baggy Trousers / Our House / It Must Be Love / Madness / Night Boat to Cairo.